NCIS Review: 101 Uses for a Dead Mole

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This week's Ducky and Palmer Show was a welcome change from the usual NCIS storyline. 

They were forced to take a slight "Detour" when the accomplices of the dead Navy mole kidnapped them in an effort to try and figure out where he hid a USB thumb drive that contained sensitive information. Ducky employed his knowledge of corpses to figure out a plan of escape and, after Palmer shot one of the spies in self-defense (only to find out he was wearing a bullet-proof vest), they were rescued by Gibbs, Tony, Ziva and McGee.

Palmer and Ducky Picture

I expected to be bored with this plot, but found myself intrigued instead. 

The idea of the two medical experts using their expertise to foil their kidnappers was inventive and different. Relying on the gastric acid from the corpse's stomach to burn through their leg irons was smart, as was their plan to escape the kidnappers by placing a cigarette butt with gauze in an oven in order to produce an explosion. 

I have no idea how the latter idea was supposed to work, but have to imagine some other body fluid from the corpse was key to that as well. This episode was pretty much a MacGyver entry almost all the way through: emptying the corpse's heinous stomach contents in order to clear the room so that Ducky and Palmer could hatch their plan was brilliant.

The same can be said the re-engineering of the body's hearing aid to create a sort of microphone, which was used to listen in on the spies' plans.

I thought the explanation for the mole's suicide was sketchy at best: he had gotten into a fight with the husband of a woman he was seducing in order to access military secrets, after which police began to notice him. 

So instead of meeting his handlers as planned, he stumbled over to a plumber's truck and chugged down some drain cleaner. Ziva's explanation that his secrets would otherwise be exposed seemed barely logical. If the authorities caught him and discovered that he was impersonating a Navy officer, and if he was then renditioned or sent to Guantanamo, perhaps his secrets would come to light. 

Those are big "ifs," though - certainly not threatening enough for a spy to want to kill himself. Wouldn't the more rational choice have been to figure out a way to pose enough lies to buy some time?

Ducky and Palmer's innovation was once again admirable when they concocted the idea of the spy having swallowed a gym locker key in order to protect his secret, knowing full well that the key was to Palmer's own gym locker. I laughed when I saw the female spy pull out Jimmy's jersey with his last name emblazoned on the back.  Good plot twist there.

Palmer is such a gentle soul too, isn't he? His plan to "take a stand" and use one of the kidnapper's guns to take down their enemies was engaged when he emptied the gun at one of them. His imminent PTSD was curtailed once he realized that his target had been saved by his bullet-proof vest. Sort of a win-lose dichotomy. ("Hey, I didn't kill anybody. Darn, he still wants to shoot us.")

Missing from the picture was Director Vance and Deputy Director Jerome Craig. Also, Tiva. No sparks there at all: I know. I checked.

The most compelling scene of the episode was Jimmy Palmer's adamant refusal to leave Ducky to the mercy of their kidnappers. 

Palmer: Doctor, I respect you more than anyone in the world, so please forgive me when I say - go to hell. I'm not leaving you. | permalink

What was your take on the episode? What did you think didn't work? Do you think we'll ever find out what country/ group was behind the mole? Did you buy the idea of the mole committing suicide to protect his secret? Did you find this episode boring or engaging? 

Note:  Our NCIS Round Table discussion is up!

Detour Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (274 Votes)

Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter


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NCIS Season 10 Episode 16 Quotes

Palmer: Oh my God.
Ducky: What?
Palmer: I just realized that I missed my nine-month wedding anniversary. Breena's going to kill me.
Ducky: You do know I have a heart condition.

Doctor, I respect you more than anyone in the world, so please forgive me when I say - go to hell. I'm not leaving you.